Speedy Leotlela impresses in CT
Tlotliso Leotlela raced to the second fastest time ever at sea level in South Africa when he won the 200m at the South African Junior and Youth Championships in Cape Town in a time of 20.28s.
At last year’s African Championships in Durban Wayde van Niekerk (Olympic and World 400m champion) won the 200 metres in 20.02s.
Since 2014 only Anaso Jobodwana (19.87s in Beijing in 2015), Van Niekerk (19.94s in Lucerne in 2015), Akani Simbine (19.95s in Pretoria in 2017) and Clarence Munyai (20.10s in Pretoria in 2017) clocked faster times than Leotlela.
If the defending national junior champion, Munyai (TuksSport High School), did not withdraw there would have been a good chance that the winning time in the final could have been even faster.
Munyai was determined to see if he could improve the South African junior record of 20.10s that he set in March 2017.
“I got a slight niggle in my quad that is why I decided to withdraw from the final. I did not want to risk aggravating it as I really wanted to give it my all and try to defend my South African senior title. I know with Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana and Akani Simbine contesting the 200m in Potchefstroom that it is going to be tough challenge,” explained Munyai.
There is no arguing that Leotlela is one for the big moment. Last year he won a silver medal in the 200m at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Leotlela said afterwards that he was slightly surprised running a time of 20.28s.
“Honestly I did not expect to run 20.28s. I was hoping that Clarence would run as I knew that we were going to push each other to run a fast time. When he withdrew it was left to me to challenge the stopwatch on my own. I did what I had to do. When I saw the time that I ran I was really happy. Now I am just looking forward to my next race.”
Athletic followers predict that Leotlela is going to run a sub ten seconds race in the 100m sometime this season.
Judging by his performances last year and so far this season it is not farfetched. Just maybe he would do so at the South African Senior Championships in Potchefstroom.
The Tuks-athlete is one of the most consistent sprinters.
Last year he constantly clocked times of 10.20s. This year he smashed Simbine’s South African junior record by 0.07s when he ran a time of 10.12s. Ten days ago at the Varsity Athletics Meeting at Tuks he equalled his own record.
Leotlela’s performances this season in the 100m are quite impressive. The 18-year-old has only competed in three 100m races.
Apart from his two record breaking races he has also managed to out sprint Van Niekerk in the 100m in Bloemfontein.
If Leotlela should dip under 10 seconds before 12 May, his birthday, he would be only the second 18-year-old to accomplish that.
Officially Trayon Bromell (USA) is the only 18-year athlete to have “blitzed” the 100m in a time faster than 10 seconds.
In 2014 when he was 18 years and 338 days he ran 9.97s.
Mark Lewis (Britain) also ran a time of 9.97s in 2001 when he was 18 and 334 days years old.
Unfortunately there was no wind-reading so his time is not official.